Pamphlets and summary sheets can be used to provide clear and succinct advice to the public about plan provisions, the resource consent process and the requirements of the RMA. Such documentation may be based on specific topics such as:
- Plan topics
- zones: rural, residential, inner city etc
- resource environments/areas
- activities: subdivision, discharge to water etc.
- Resource consent topics
- resource consent - what is it and why do I need one?
- lodging a resource consent application
- how to prepare a consent application, including the preparation of an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) in accordance with information required in Schedule 4
- consultation, affected persons and written approvals
- difference between notified, limited notified and non-notified resource consents
- making a submission on a resource consent application
- hearings and pre-hearing meetings
- after the decision - now that you have your resource consent
- appeals and objections to decisions
- compliance, monitoring and enforcement.
Tips for writing promotional material
The following are some tips and things to remember when writing material for pamphlets/brochures and making them available:
- The person reading the pamphlet/brochure may have no experience or understanding of the RMA whatsoever.
- Keep the material simple and try to avoid the use of technical language or planning jargon.
- Keep information short and to the point. Avoid lengthy descriptions.
- Include council contact details for people wanting more guidance.
- Make the pamphlets/brochures available on the council website.
- Have a look at what other councils have done: some very good council pamphlets on RMA matters and processes already exist that may be easily adapted for your council.
- Keep the pamphlets/brochures up to date.
- Make them easily accessible to the public (eg, near the public counter and in libraries).
- Always have a good supply at hand.
The everyday guide to the RMA series
The Ministry for the Environment has produced An Everyday Guide to the RMA series of booklets, which a council may want to give to the public or adapt to suit their own requirements. These booklets are available online and in hard copy. They cover:
- getting in on the act - an overview of the RMA
- resolving RMA concerns
- national level guidance and processes
- applying for a resource consent
- consultation for resource consent applicants
- your rights as an 'affected person '
- making a submission on a resource consent
- appearing at a council resource consent hearing
- the designation process
- making a submission on a proposed plan or plan change
- appearing at a council plan or plan change hearing.
Other Ministry for the Environment publications providing guidance on the resource consent process include:
- Your guide to the RMA
- A beginner's guide to resource and building consent processes under the RMA and the Building Act 2004 (produced jointly with the (former) Department of Building and Housing).
It is good practice to attach relevant pamphlets to outgoing correspondence from the council.
Forums for regular applicants
Hold forums with regular applicants such as: resource management consultants, surveyors, architects, iwi, engineers, and government and development agencies. Discussing the application process, sharing ideas and fostering relationships can make a real difference to the quality of resource consent applications and the council's ability to process resource consents efficiently.
Feature articles in the local newspaper
Placing feature articles in local papers can be a good way to reach a wide audience, and potentially educate a large proportion of the public on the resource consent process. As a general rule, the better informed the community becomes about the entire process, the easier the councils job. Some council’s have a regular bulletin in their local newspaper, presenting weekly events occurring at the council. This medium could easily be used for educating people on the resource consent process.
Council newsletters are likely to reach a vast majority of the people involved in the resource consent process as applicants, as submitters, or as affected persons. These newsletters could include topics covered by council pamphlets/brochures, or other sources of relevant information.
Council displays at public shows
Councils can produce displays for agricultural shows, home shows, trade shows and so on. These are useful and informative forums which not only display information but also allow the public to interact with council officers present, and ask questions.
All councils now have their own website. This is a very good place to provide details on how to make a resource consent application and what information needs to be provided in an AEE.